By Stéphanie Psarski
This testimony is a very good and heart warming example of how, to workers, Transient Workers Count Too makes a difference even in the tiniest thing.
Injured on his back in July 2012, Kamal Mostafa has been waiting in Singapore for his case to be settled by MOM for two years. Not having worked all this while, he has no money. He has depended on TWC2 for meals for well over a year.
Starting in early August, he developed a cough, and soon found difficulty in breathing and sleeping. After a week of worsening symptoms, on the evening of Friday 15 August 2014, he told TWC2 executive committee member Debbie Fordyce about it. She advised him to go to a polyclinic and gave him $150 to do so.
At the Geylang Polyclinic, the doctor diagnosed asthma. They gave him some medication and kept him there about two hours for observation. He didn’t improve very much, and the polyclinic then told him he should admit himself to hospital. This was impossible. “I no money, how to go to hospital?” Kamal tells me of his thoughts at that moment. Instead he made his way back to TWC2’s meal point where he knew he could find a TWC2 volunteer to discuss his problem with.
He was in luck. On hand was none other than Loh Wei Hung, one of the two volunteer leaders of TWC2’s Road to Recovery team. Hearing the polyclinic’s recommendation, Wei Hung immediately took Kamal to Tan Tock Seng Hospital by taxi. Indeed, Kamal’s condition was serious; the hospital felt he needed to be warded.
Kamal stayed two nights. “The nurse put tube in my hand,” he tells me, indicating how an intravenous drip was administered to a vein on the back of his hand.
TWC2’s care and concern did not just stop at admitting him. Wei Hung visited him the next day to see how he was progressing. And then went again to discharge him on the third day.
The money problem now was many times bigger. For two nights’ stay, the hospital bill came to $2,625.85. Foreign workers like Kamal do not enjoy any government subsidy. Who would pay?
TWC2 has a Care Fund (thank you: donors) that will support such medical emergencies if no one else is responsible for the worker. This is how Road to Recovery can respond quickly and effectively as soon as Kamal came to Wei Hung. However, ‘if no one else is responsible for the worker’ is an important condition. We do not want to pay for something that someone else should be responsible for; it sets a bad example.
Wei Hung then checked with MOM, and was informed that Kamal’s former employer should be the party paying the hospital. The Work Pass Conditions (Fourth Schedule, part III, section 1) makes it very clear that the employer’s responsibility “includes the provision of medical treatment”. The hospital was informed and they prepared an invoice accordingly.
Helping workers is not only about filling reports and lodging complaints against immoral employers, it is also small every day actions like giving money in advance to help a worker visit a clinic, taking a worker to hospital and visiting him to see if he is getting better. Foreign workers have no family here to support them. TWC2 volunteers play an important role in giving workers hope and confidence that they are not alone in Singapore.